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Thursday, September 8, 2016

What I Learned on my Placement

Ida:

I’m a young lady from Sandema. Being a lady whose brother has a kind of disability has made me develop a lot of interest in disability. Even though he is a disabled person, he does more things than many able people. He is such a caring brother to me and the community as a whole. He is so helpful to so many people in the community in spite of his disability. I have always been grateful to God for giving me such a wonderful gift and I firmly believe that ‘Disability is not Inability'. I also met our teammate Paul, who has a physical disability, at the District Library a year ago. He is such an intelligent and lovely person who in so many ways, and has a lot of potentials in him regardless of his disability.

Ida and Paul
However, most people in the Builsa District think that disability is a curse from God, witchcraft or evil beings which makes people isolate themselves from people. This does not encourage disabled people to participate fully in the activities of the community which might bring about something rewarding. Besides that, people with disabilities are sometimes mocked, which makes them always be indoors in order to hide away.

Through research and personal interactions with people who have disabilities, my team has learned that disability is not a curse from God, witchcraft, or so many other ways people might think of, but as a result of accident, illness, poverty, malnutrition, drug abuse, or heredity, among other reasons. We have spread this message by means of our sensitisations so that now most people in the area know about the causes, challenges people with disability face, rights of disabled people and how to integrate such people into their society. We also conducted two teacher training workshops to improve teachers’ knowledge of how to identify children with disability and give them the necessary support. This made an impact on the teachers and they were very thankful to International Service.

To live and work with people of different cultural backgrounds is not easy but volunteering with ICS has given me such a great opportunity to learn from them. Besides that, it has also been a great privilege for me to educate the society on disability as well as to understand more about disability myself.

Estelle:

Ghana has a diverse range of cultures making it one of the few countries in Africa to boast a range of  culinary delicacies. There are traditional cuisines which differs from every tribe, clan and ethnic group. Moreover, food can vary depending on the occasion, season and festivals. With the rise of modernisation and the arrival of colonialism, imported crops such as rice and wheat have been incorporated into Ghanaian dishes.

In the Upper East Region of Ghana, yams, millet and corns are eaten more frequently. The cuisine tends to rely heavily on starch food. Despite coming from the Southern part of Ghana originally, I must admit the taste, texture and style of food are considerably different to the food of the North. Stews and soups from the Southern part of Ghana tends to more adventurous with the use of exotic ingredients and a wide range of flavours, textures and spices.

Estelle learning how to make local dishes at her host home.

Being part of the LIFE project, it come to my awareness that employment is a challenge in Ghana and, generally, disability poses a further difficulty to employment. As a result, persons with disabilities cannot support themselves financially, and struggle to meet the three meals recommendation daily, especially if they come from impoverished backgrounds. This is certainly upsetting, as nobody should go hungry or struggle to afford food due to their disability or having no source of support. For this reason, I feel honoured to be part of the LIFE project as we are helping promote disability rights and to help reduce inequality against people with disabilities.

Being part of the LIFE project, which works in collaboration with Presbyterian Community Based Rehabilitation to integrate those with disabilities, has been a great privilege. Although it has come with its challenges, I must admit the experience has been insightful and impactful. I had no experience with disability prior to coming to Sandema. The LIFE project has enabled me to be more aware of issues facing children and adults with disabilities.

I have been personally involved in planning youth clubs, delivering sessions, writing reports, and doing church and community sensitisations. The LIFE project has made me consider a career surrounding human rights, development or humanitarianism. I have learnt from different cultures, people and experiences. I hope my efforts and contributions towards the LIFE team will help bring impact and change to the community of Sandema, and beyond. I can proudly say, ‘CHALLENGE YOURSELF TO CHANGE YOUR WORLD’.

Ida and Estelle speaking about disability at the Catholic Church, Sandema.

By Ida Achuroa and Estelle Oduro

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